Content warning for descriptions of violence against Indigenous people.
Just a note: I will be eating turkey and green bean casserole next week, like so many Americans across the country. My words are not intended to place a barrier between myself and others. We have choices to make under a continuing colonial system, and one of those choices is to complicate simple narratives that hide fuller truths. Being thankful for the harvest is possible even in spite of exploitation. We can hold both at the same time. You will also see that some of my reflections have white people as their target audience. …
The year 2020 has been marked not only by collective endurance in the face of a global pandemic, but by continuing protest against the systemic murder of Black Americans at the hands of police. As grief counselors and therapists discuss how these twin horrors impact our mental health, it should be noted that systemic injustice has infected even the way we diagnose mental health conditions. While psychologists agree that the generational and ongoing trauma caused by systemic racism can engender similar physical and psychological effects to PTSD, many Black Americans are ineligible for subsidized treatment or specialized programs for PTSD. Why? For the simple reason that psychiatric professionals’ primary diagnostic tool, the DSM-5, indicates that symptoms must have originated from a unique — and usually individually experienced — event in order to be classified as PTSD. …
“Please, I need a chaplain to visit Mr. S. I just gave him really bad news.”
“I know he prefers the Catholic chaplain. Does he want to wait for him, or should I come now?”
“Come now. I just gave him really, really bad news.”
Yesterday at 12:15 pm, just as I had gotten back to the Chaplain office from a morning of rounds, I received a phone call from a young doctor. There was pleading in his voice, the repetition of “really bad news,” as if incanting the phrase would change the prognosis.
I stuffed some pretzels in my mouth to tide me over, then scrambled through the long hallway and several stairwells it took to get back to Mr. S’ room. I had visited him not an hour earlier. He had asked for his favorite Catholic chaplain, so I settled into a sprawling conversation with his roommate. Eventually, Mr. S joined in, as his roommate revealed that he had cirrhosis of the liver despite having never been an alcoholic. …
You’re having a celebration of life
But I’m here for the funeral
I’m here for the firm voice
of the priest squaring my shoulders
and telling me
It’s okay to grieve
It’s okay to grieve the things you wanted
the things you no longer have
even as the death knell
echoes through empty streets
and the city shuts down
It’s okay to grieve the handshakes
and spitting laughter — the bear hugs
even though you’re lucky
to be safe in your home with a stash
of toilet paper
It’s okay to grieve the knowledge
that your grief is nothing
like the grief of the dying and
the ones who love them
– to hate yourself for…
Veteran is a relative term.
By the standards of our grandmothers who sewed their own clothes, I am not one. But by the standards of the quickly moving world of ethical fashion on the internet, I’m old enough to be your mother!
I’ve been blogging on ethical fashion — starting with a humble little blog on WordPress dedicated to fair trade — since January 2013. …
A few weeks ago, I helped coordinate a screening of The True Cost documentary in partnership with local sustainability advocates in Charlottesville, Virginia.
I hadn’t watched The True Cost since it premiered in 2015 and, while I remembered feeling a bit hopeless afterward, I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of tragedy and turmoil woven into the narrative.
In case you haven’t watched The True Cost (you really should — it’s available as a rental on YouTube and Amazon Prime, and I think it’s still up on Netflix), the premise is simple: documentarian and fashion industry novice Andrew Morgan is profoundly affected by the Rana Plaza collapse, which killed over 1,130 garment workers in April 2013, and sets out to uncover “the true cost” of the international fashion industry, from the cotton fields to the tanneries to the factories to the high street stores. …
I was an Instagram addict.
It started off innocently enough. In 2015, a friend in the budding “influencer” space suggested I make an account for my blog. Before I knew it, I had integrated the platform into my blogging business plan, started taking on sponsorships, worked to grow my following, and committed myself to posting a minimum of once per day.
I kept this up for almost three years, contemplating quitting at least once a year during that time as I could feel myself agitating under its watchful eye.
I had an Instagram-related nervous breakdown in 2017.
I tried to quit again in January of last year. …
The US political climate in the Trump age is burdensome to say the least.
Fear yields anxiety yields rage yields exhaustion.
We are traumatized, the systemically and personally vulnerable among our population especially so.
We are confused, and the President and his allies continually sow more confusion.
We feel hopeless, because every small thing we can do feels meaningless in the face of a multitude of new human rights abuses and uncertainties.
I wake up most mornings feeling a weight on my chest, trying to navigate a world that’s not necessarily worse than before but with “solutions” that feel decidedly less clear-cut. …
As a white kid growing up in upper middle class Florida suburbs, my world, culturally speaking, was quite small.
There was one Jewish kid in classes with me and very few people of color. Partly due to Florida’s abysmal public education program, kids of different races were often grouped into different “tracks,” and thus had little opportunity to interact with one another.
The one exception to this was the Latinx community. In Bradenton, Florida, where I grew up, we were fortunate to have thriving Cuban and Mexican communities. My fourth grade teacher was originally from Cuba, and I will never forget the time she made black beans and rice for our class full of midwestern-born, southern-raised white kids. We begged for seconds and thirds. Her teacher’s aid was from Mexico — the parent of Miguel, a kid I secretly had a crush on in middle school — and they would talk about us in Spanish at the front of the class. …
I grew up in a conservative, Evangelical church tradition where “traditional gender roles” were the norm. While women could serve as pastors, most women in the congregation were subtly prodded toward more “appropriate” tasks like caregiving, coordinating pot lucks, and participating in women-centric, feelings based small groups and bible studies. By the same token, women and girls were expected to uphold particular modesty standards in the vein of of Proverbs 31 woman and “keep our bodies pure.” For more on that, read my post on Modesty.
At a national youth convention I attended around age 15, teenagers were encouraged to commit ourselves to chastity in exchange for a purity ring we could replace with our wedding ring later down the road. A huge, massive, overbearing emphasis was placed on abstinence in the context of religious life and personal spirituality, particularly for women, which resulted in teenage girls feeling shame at their inability to resist the temptation of sex and its related activities; repulsion toward sex and sexual desires; and/or extreme pride that they were able to resist (I fell in the latter category). …